I apologize for the delay, I have had, and continue to have, many reservations about posting anything for a variety of reasons. However, in the interest of being charitable, as Ben so aptly put it, and because of my desire to maintain my own belief in the good will and kind spirit of others I am choosing to participate in this forum.
My name is Lauren Salzman, my mother is Nancy Salzman (Owner and CEO of NXIVM). I have known Keith for 10 years. He has been my friend and mentor and has set a good example for me of standing up for your beliefs in the face of adversity even if it means being unpopular. He is a humble and gentle person, always respectful of others and always seeking to find, inspire, fuel and uphold the good in all things. My interactions with Keith over the years have contributed to my having more joy, better relationships, better business skills, an increase in my earning capacity, and a more healthy and balanced life. I have seen Keith be nothing but generous and giving of himself and his resources to others and over the past 10 years I have seen countless individuals lie to him, steal from him, slander him and put tremendous amounts of time and energy into thwarting his attempts to make a valuable contribution to society. The best explanation I can come up with is that new and different ideas are scary to people and that sometimes people do crazy things when they feel threatened… I hope humanity is not more malicious than that, but I have seen things that I seriously am in disbelief over, including events that took place over the weekend at the A Cappella Innovations festival.
For the past 8 years I have been the acting Director of Education for Executive Success Programs. In this capacity I have acted as a Trainer/Teacher of this model in over a dozen Countries including the US, Mexico, Canada, England, Ireland, Dubai, and India. I have trained staff and helped create and implement the evaluation standards to maintain proficiency in our educators. I am a trained speaker and presenter and have lead workshops for thousands of people internationally. In my spare time I produce and direct musical theater, a venture inspired by Keith who has devoted endless hours of time and energy to helping me train my vocalists and actors, design and construct my sets and fund my projects. Due to my experience in these areas I was asked to come and facilitate workshops at A Cappella Innovations.
Firstly I would like to say that I feel very honored to have been invited to participate. I can’t express the respect and admiration I have for all the performers, judges, organizers, etc. The arts and artistic expression are two things I value in my life and believe in promoting in the world.
I can go into all of my relationships and personal opinions of my friends, Keith, Nancy, Clare, Ally, Nicki, etc. but it seems like really the main concern on the table is what is NXIVM and what do we do.
As I see it there are two issues I (I will speak for myself) struggle with in answering this question:
#1 –Same issue as Napster and the reason for Intellectual Property in my opinion, people steal. It’s not secret because we don’t want others to know what we’re doing, it’s ours to distribute as we choose and we choose not to mass distribute it to the world. Most people in the entertainment industry can relate to having their stuff stolen and needing to take measures against this… Joan Osborne gave a concert in the Albany area a few years back in which she made a public request to those present that if they liked her music to please purchase it, and she shared her struggle and the destructive effects she was experiencing from the mass distribution of her music on the internet… I think it’s horrible that a performer should have to pretty please ask you not to steal their stuff because it bankrupts them. Same thing here.
#2 concern – Anything I say runs the risk of being contorted, read into, used against me… and when you have clearly defined, paid, adversaries looking to disparage and create ill will against you, and set up hate sites to do it, contacting anyone you do business with and threatening disrepute and slander against them if they continue to associate with you, seeking to destroy any new business that you start, any new friendship you make, seeking to inspire fear in your neighbors, community members and in the world at large, you learn to keep to yourself and go about your business.
Having said this, NXIVM has two objectives as I see them:
#1 – Help our participants achieve their own goals and objectives, personal or professional.
#2 – Help inspire a sense of interdependence and awareness of how we participate in and affect the world we live in – I would classify this category as Ethics and Humanity, but it’s in the vein of “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”.
The way we go about achieving these objectives is by helping our participants target the areas of limitation they are experiencing in achieving their goals. For example, if someone wants to be more successful in business, we seek to identify the limiting factors: sometimes these factors are emotional, like the person doesn’t have follow through, or they are afraid of confrontation. In this case we would seek to build follow through or explore why confrontation is so scary for the person. They may be missing a skill set, so we might teach them how to be a better manager by building the skill sets to do so – learning to delegate effectively for example. They may have a bad temper so we help them explore their relationship with their anger so that they can be more proactive and less reactive.
This is a pretty straightforward program, but there is a systematic method for helping people overcome their limitations that Keith came up with. It is based on concepts of math and biology and we have gotten good results using this tool to help people overcome fears and become more easily able to “walk their talk” so to speak. It is a simple method for evaluation of each person’s goals and values and very critical approach to breaking through personal road blocks by exploring where each person’s beliefs are not consistent with cause and effect. For example, if I believe that I am entitled to a raise in salary without earning it, this would not be consistent with the reality of how to earn a pay increase so we would explore the basis for the person’s belief that something outside of reality is a strong possibility and their justification for not working to earn what they want. Simple and common defenses like “it’s not fair” are not really going to help you function effectively if your objective is to earn more money. This process is very straightforward, highly effective, not mystical in nature and a trade secret.
The other thing we do is explore how to be more humanitarian and ethical. We don’t teach people what to think, we teach people how to think and evaluate the ethics of any situation to determine how best to uphold themselves and their values, how to uphold other people and interact with them in more civilized ways allowing for personal differences and recognizing we are all part of the human team.
If you have further questions about any of this you can contact me personally through Facebook and I’ll be happy to speak to you on an individual basis.
Please consider, the Salem Witch Trials were based on a similar type of logic as the cult accusations… If you accuse me of being in a cult, there is no possible way I could ever say I’m not and have you believe me because you can always say that I’m brainwashed.
This puts me in quite a bind…
Bottom line: What does NXIVM do that is bad? What does Keith do that is bad?
In 2001, a friend of mine was kidnapped in Mexico and held against his will for 3 months. His kidnappers cut off the tops of both of his ears and the pinky finger off his left hand and sent it home to his family in an attempt to extort a large sum of money.
THIS WAS CLEARLY AND MEASURABLY BAD.
Over a decade ago Keith ran a large corporation. He was accused of running a pyramid scheme. There were civil, not criminal, charges brought forth, and after extensive investigation, and over 20,000 witnesses to choose from, the case was dismissed because there was no proof that there was any cause for suit. All the negative publicity was shown to be false by the judgment in court and there was only one line ever publicized that all the negativity was unfounded and Keith’s company was the first multi-level-marketing company to ever win in court. Keith spent all the money the company made in an effort to defend himself and his vision. In the end, between the legal battles and the bad press, there was nothing left of the company.
Please note that the company in question was founded by 3 individuals: Keith Raniere, Pam Cafritz and Karen Unterreiner. If you know them at all (and many of you worked with Karen last weekend at ACI) it would be difficult to believe that they are sinister in any way.
Rick Ross is a convicted felon. He believes that holding individuals against their will is a valid method of helping “reform” them from brainwashing. He was found responsible in a court of law of this. What right does he have to deem other’s beliefs bad and forcibly hold them against their will until they change said beliefs? THIS IS CLEARLY AND MEASURABLY AN INFRINGEMENT ON BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS.
Rick Ross has broken into a private home with the intent of burglary and pled guilty to this crime. He stole thousands of dollars of jewelry from a department store and was caught and pled guilty. He violated the terms of his probation for the above offenses. THESE ARE BAD THINGS. THEY ARE MEASURABLE THINGS.
To say Keith is creepy, shady, mal-intended is insubstantial. What has Keith done that is bad? What has NXIVM done that is bad other than to be labeled “cult” by someone paid to do so? Cult is a non-descript term used to inspire fear and distrust in people who are not critical in their thinking.
NXIVM has lawsuits against Rick Ross and his co-conspirators who stole our property (violating our constitutional property rights) and slandered us all over the internet, tarnishing our reputation in the public eye. We also have lawsuits against others who have stolen money and property from us and violated client confidentialities and privileges that are supposed to be upheld by our government. This does not make us a cult and to say we go after anyone who says anything negative is a huge contortion on the truth. We are willing to stand up for what is right and just. It’s right thing to do in my opinion.
On a final note:
I feel sad that people at ACI were affected in a negative way by whatever things affected them on all sides. There does remain the question of how do you help people learn to express themselves honestly, genuinely and without fear? I believe this is the goal of A Cappella Innovations. The workshops were set up to facilitate that process, and for many I think it was successful. I think the start of this thread, no matter how angry/fearful/misdirected it was, was set up to achieve the same objective… We’ll see how it turns out.
I still subscribe to the “Be the change you wish to see in the world” mentality. Gandhi was a smart guy. So’s Ben Stevens!
Director of Education